There was something timeless about Pearl Jam’s set Saturday night in Los Angeles. For three hours, the iconic Seattle rock band took the sold-out LA Memorial Sports Arena through decades of rich Pearl Jam history; paid homage to Van Halen, the Ramones (“I Believe in Miracles”), and the Who (“Baba O’Riley”); and thanked artists like Bruce Springsteen for telling them to play that venue and the Red Hot Chili Peppers for giving them a chance.
The approach was simple. A modest set of stacked amps, hanging lanterns, and a mass of steel resembling a bird overhead was all Pearl Jam needed. Eddie Vedder drank from a bottle of wine all night, which fueled him through the thirty-plus-song outing and several trips into the crowd (with whom he later shared the bottle). Sonically, Vedder and company were perfection.
The obvious highlights were the mega-hits — “Jeremy,” “Black,” and “Alive” — but some of the night’s most memorable and poignant moments were the newer tracks off Lightning Bolt, particularly the dreamy rendition of “Sirens” and a few lesser-known songs, including the fan-requested “All or None.”
The crowd was naturally fixated on Vedder as he swung from the hanging lanterns, smashed his mic stand on the ground, kicked out a female fan, joked about hiring George Zimmerman for tour security, and slow-danced with a (male) flannel-shirt-wearing stage crasher. But a Pearl Jam concert is wildly incomplete without guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready. The duo was powerful Saturday night with riffing guitar solos on PJ hits and rock classics like Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Their dynamic, energetic performance not only kept the set alive but the crowd at a ten through not one, but two encores.
Springsteen was right — they really did get that place rockin’.
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